Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Luck vs Skill - poker provides the ultimate balance

In Australia, we have a game called Two-up that is played on ANZAC Day in memory of the Diggers that fought in Gallipoli in Turkey during World War 1. The game was extremely popular with the troops and was simply a case of having a spinner that would toss two or three coins with everyone around in a circle placing bets with each other on Heads or Tails (a tie was a respin). That's gambling and it's purest and was extremely popular with large sums wagered. In theory, no-one had an advantage or a disadvantage.

Now let's look at Chess. The best player almost always wins. Hence, you run out of opponents willing to play for money pretty quickly in your local neighbourhood if you are World Champion.

Backgammon, is a game of skill whereby the dice "deceives" less capable players in the short term into thinking that there is more luck involved in the game than skill. Over the long run though, the skill element comes to the fore and the best players bubble up to the top. That said, the losing players often extract so much enjoyment from the game that it can far outweigh any modest loses that they make.

But how much skill is there in poker? It's easy to learn but impossible to master with an enormous amount of applied knowledge required if you are committed to reaching the top of the pyramid; which is why poker is clearly a game of skill.

In my opinion, the ideal combination of skill and luck exists. As for the most important skill? Without a doubt, game selection. Invest with your head, not over it. If you are a losing player, try dropping to 1c/2c and working your way up when you KNOW that you are winning at any particular level. You'll be very surprised how difficult it is to win at even these levels but the experience will serve you well at every subsequent level.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crazy Chip

Dedicated to everyone who has posted a hand history or a graph on 2+2 ... enjoy!

Variance - love it or hate it?

PLO VARIANCE IS BRUTAL! From being on top of the world in terms of my poker results, I played a series of sessions where my AI EV line stayed positive but my bankroll took a severe hit. I handed back almost 50% of my recent gains in a couple of big hands where I got my money in good.

Thankfully last night I arrested the slide with my confidence pretty low. I won a big hand 3-way for $250 in a FR PLO100 game and then a few hands later won another stack when we both got it in with AA** and I hit my flush. Less than an orbit later, I had the nuts on the Turn when an idiot str8 filled and I got potted into. It was such a confusing board, it took me a second to confirm I had the nutz before shoving. He folded which was emotionally confusing for me. I knew I had the nuts so I want a call, right? Nope, logically if he calls we tie on that board so the fold was way better.

HEM and experience are helping me ride what is an unbelievable emotional rollercoaster. If you are going to concentrate on PLO I strongly suggest keeping a close eye on AIEV to keep tabs on how you are really playing. For me it is a wake up call that after a couple of years of trying hard not to be results oriented, it is very much a work in progress. Also, I had become fairly objective and unemotional to results but after a brutal stretch I found myself cursing my luck.

Taking a few steps back, it is clear that in the live arena, it will be virtaully impossible for the wave of players transitioning to PLO to really know if they are long term winning players or not for many, many years. Needless to say, 95% of us won't be. An opportunity well worth pursuing for those of us that missed the heady days of Party Poker in 2003.

PS Another thanks to Jeff Hwang, when I was struggling, I was still very confident that I was playing solidly thanks to his clear guidance on how to play. It really does help if you're trying to knuckle down and grind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A big thank you to Jeff Hwang

My chart on PTR is a V-shape and the bottom of the V is about 3 days after I bought Jeff Hwang's first book on PLO. I've raved about the Advanced book before but in truth it was beyond me at that time. In fact, it has been a while since I picked it up because the first one is so good for teaching you solid big play poker.

I think that I'm running good and my results are great. I even made it into the PTR Top Winners yesterday. The confidence has also spilled over into my live game where results in local pub chip chops, Friday night home games and even the casino have all been positive. My losing sessions would certainly be below 20%. It won't last so this is really just a note to myself for posterity. In the bad times, I'll be able to look back and think that I had one of the games nailed, if only for a fleeting week or two.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's been happening?

A long time between posts! I'm not sure if I will continue blogging as regularly because it is just so time-comsuming and the regular updates tend to be so variance biased.

Having had the opportunity to reflect on a summer of poker, I must say that it has been a good one, the highlight being a home game in Whistler when I was skiing. A well run game with a mix of locals and regular visitors. I have met so many great people through poker.

I've been running good in our own home games which are definitely getting tougher. Similarly, played yesterday in a pub game that is now attracting internet kids chasing the easy money and consequently tougher. Pleased to report that I'm still a regular winner thanks to online volume primarily.

Online, I lost my shirt on Rush Poker. It's hard to tell if it is variance and I did seem to run extremely badly but that many BIs lost can't be all variance, surely.

4-tabling PLO100 FR is my game of choice these days and after "investing" in experiential learning, I invested on Jeff Hwang's two books on the subject which I can't recommend highly enough. My chart was down at an angle of 30 degrees until the books flicked it right up at 30 degrees almost overnight. The secret, play tighter, D'oh!

Live, I'm looking forward to the ANZPT but will miss out on Adelaide. May try to make it over to Perth and then give Sydney a real go buying into a few of the events.

In summary, Bankroll continues to grow and the game is providing me with more fun than ever before.